Apple's M1 Max may game as well as an RTX 3080 Mobile

Apple's M1 Max may game as well as an RTX 3080 Mobile

Apple unveiled its next-generation ARM SoCs yesterday, known as the M1 Pro and M1 Max and they could be absolute game changer chips. Not only are they vastly more powerful than the first-generation M1, but they're just as efficient, making this new-generation of MacBooks faster than the fastest of Intel and AMD laptop CPUs in general compute performance, but more crucially, almost as capable as the fastest of mobile graphics chips.

The next-generation MacBook could be one of the fastest gaming laptops ever made, despite not being designed for that at all.

In its showcase of the new hardware, Apple showed how the M1 Pro and M1 Max are effectively giant GPUs wrapped in more traditional SoC hardware. It includes DRAM on the die itself, making for incredibly high bandwidth at low latency, and ultimately demanding far less power than more traditional x86 chips.

In its first example, it showed how the M1 Pro and M1 Max can deliver higher CPU performance than 8-core laptop chips like the Intel 11800H, at 70% less power. The GPU performance in the M1 Max was even more incredible, showing comparable performance to an RTX 3080 mobile at just 60W, versus the 160W of the Nvidia GPU.

The big caveat to all this is that ARM processing is far from ideal, especially with games, which are almost exclusively designed with the x86 architecture in mind. Still, as the first generation M1 showed, emulation can go a long way to bringing that performance to bear on more traditional software. It will be interested to see what the M1 Pro and M1 Max can do in modern games when the first hardware becomes available.

Prices are very high, though, as you might expect from Apple hardware. You'll have to spend over $3,000 to get a decent spec M1 Max laptop. That's a lot more than you'd spend to get an RTX 3080 mobile.